Rolando del Bosque | ESPN DigitalReading: 4 min.
The Denver Nuggets recovered the intensity of their defensive game, looked focused on offense and had some unstoppable Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, plus the ‘X Factor’ in Christian Braun to beat the Miami Heat in Game 3 by a score of 109- 94 and take the lead (2-1) in the 2023 NBA Finals.
As in Game 2, Miami again opted to start with Kevin Love to have more stature on the court and try to face Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr. so that not all the work in that aspect fell on Bam Adebayo, but in Game 3, the contribution of ‘Bam-Bam’ and Jimmy Butler was cut short by the power on both sides of the court from ‘Joker’, Murray and rookie Braun.
These are some of the keys to the victory achieved by the Nuggets in Game 3…
1.- Historical contributions of Jokic and Murray
The Nuggets’ ‘Power duo’ could have played just the Heat’s starting five and would have won the game.
Miami never found a way to slow down the two-time MVP the way it did in Game 2, when he dried up the center’s assists to just four; for Game 3, the Serb delivered a historic triple-double of 32 points, 21 rebounds and 10 assists.
Likewise, the Canadian point guard had a triple figure of 34 goals, 10 boards and the same number of assists. Between them they combined for 66 of Denver’s 109 points, the same amount that Miami’s five first basemen finished with (Butler 28, Adebayo 22, Love 6, Vincent 7 and Strus 3).
According to ESPN Stats & Info research, Jokic and Murray are the first teammates in NBA history with a triple-double of 30 or more points in the same regular-season or playoff game.
1.1.- Star on the forehead for Christian Braun.
The Nuggets rookie graduated to playoff games by launching Denver’s offense off the bench and adding 15 points, 4 rebounds and an assist in 19 minutes of play, dwarfing teammates Michael Porter Jr. who went with two points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who added 6.
2.- Defensive application.
Except for the opening minutes of the first quarter, the Nuggets had little trouble controlling their opponent and forced Miami to rely on Butler and Adebayo as the input from the rest of coach Erik Spoelstra’s first unit was poor compared to Game 2.
Gabe Vincent, who led the Heat with 23 points in Game 2, had just seven on Wednesday night because he got into foul trouble early; Max Strus failed to hit his three-pointer by going 1-4 and 1-7 from the field.
For much of the game, Denver’s defense bothered their opponent’s shots, which finished with a low 37.0% from the field (34-92) and 31.4% from the arc (11-35).
The difference in the paint was also overwhelming for the visitors who grabbed 58 rebounds to the Heat’s 33, of which 45 were defensive for the Nuggets to the Heat’s 23.
3.- Butler and Adebayo, without help
One of the keys in Game 2 for Miami was the overall contribution and response from the bench by Duncan Robinson and Caleb Martin; However, during Game 3, Butler and Adebayo fought practically alone against the Nuggets and despite the fact that their numbers were not low, they were not enough to get close to their rival on the scoreboard or try one of those comebacks that they have been making over the years. playoffs have accustomed their fans.
The double-double of the center (22 points, 17 rebounds), plus Butler’s 28 points fell short this time, as did Robinson, who left with 9 points, the same as Kyle Lowry, plus a dozen from Martin. The rest of Spoelstra’s rotation, which included five other players, was not reflected on the scoreboard.
Miami’s adjustments will have to be very punctual and more than anything effective for Game 4 that will take place on Friday so as not to return to Denver against the wall in the event of a far from improbable victory for the Nuggets at Kaseya Center.
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